BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for August 3, 2010
BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for August 5, 2010

Billboards and City Council: A memorable night's debate

City Council was pressing well into the 11 o'clock hour last night by the time the procedural event happened: City Councilman Mike Woodard made the motion for a vote on the billboard industry's rezoning proposal, while Cora Cole McFadden seconded the item.

Dixie-gun-knife-bryant By this point, the outcome was clear -- enough Council members had signalled during discussion that they'd oppose the measure to make its failure a foregone conclusion. The only question was the margin of victory/loss, depending on your point of view.

Mayor Bill Bell opened the vote, and all eyes turned to the big-screen TVs mounted on the wall. A sea of reds, red for "Nay" -- save for one green mark next to Farad Ali's name.

"Uhhhh... uhhhh..." Ali stammered, clearly flustered at a mis-vote. To much laughter, Bell reminded Ali that he'd opened the vote, but hadn't closed it. Quickly, Ali's green box flipped to red.

Half the audience erupted in anticipated cheers; the other, stood silently and smoothed out their sports coats and dresses in preparation for a grim walk out of the chambers.

To organizers of the billboard measure's opposition, the outcome was expected coming into the night, if their assurances from the close-held lobbying of Council members held. But it wasn't clear until the very last whether it'd be unanimous or not.

That unanimity? It came down to a variety of factors, including the overwhelming differential in emails and letters from citizens; concerns over job and tax numbers; concerns over reopening the door on a legal matter long-fought with a seven-figure litigation bill by the City; and the surprise presence of an influential speaker for the opposition.

And don't leave out the X-factor in the whole vote: a happenstance billboard for a Raleigh gun and knife show that couldn't have picked a worse perch above the Durham roadways -- and couldn't have found a worse Councilman to tick off.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Certainly it was one of the more memorable Council meetings in my memory, and one that had to be experienced in the flesh, as it were, to get the full experience.

Supporters of the revised billboard ordinance turned out in decent numbers, and early, filling up the seats directly in front of the dais. As opponents arrived, they grabbed the occasional seat here and there, and took up space in the northern overflow section, behind media row and the corners where City staff observe, confer, and occasionally snicker and gossip over the night's drama.

And they certainly looked organized, wearing "Advance Durham" stickers mirroring the DurhamBillboardFacts.com web site's logo, and in many cases conferring with the lobbyists and organizers supporting Fairway Outdoor Advertising's effort.

Opponents added their own names to the sign-up list to speak; by the start of the meeting, there were about thirty speakers on each side.

It was a meeting that had the look it could have gotten out of control quickly. And to echo a comment made here at BCR earlier, the thing that kept that happening was a clear establishment of parliamentary control by Bell.

Before the general business agenda even kicked off with a number of routine planning items, Bell set ground rules for the discussion, requesting decorum and noting the rules of engagement by which such a public hearing would be held. Bell added that he would not allow the yielding of time from one speaker to another -- something common in controversial cases with big sign-ups, allowing long discourses from spokesfolks for one side or the other.

And the procedural strictness continued through the meeting; when Bell called out the order of speakers for the proponents, attorney Patrick Byker approached the podium mic to offer that the speakers might appear in a different order since their points were lined up sequentially to make a logical argument.

Bell, showing annoyance, informed the proponent's attorney that the speakers would appear in the order hizonner had just called, since he wasn't going to fumble through the cards to line people up. Byker quickly backed down, and the proponents arrived in their original order.

Proponents emphasized the economic value towards small businesses and non-profits that digital billboards and improved structures would offer. 

Matt West, a billboard ad space salesman, noted a $1 million annual advertising value linked to the proposed nonprofit space donations by Fairway -- while also telling Council that the restrictions in question were "taking my livelihood away" with three young daughters at home. 

He added that public safety would be improved by the crime and safety messages of the signs, telling Council that he had been told Durham had a crime problem nearly twenty years ago when he came to town, and that anything that could be done to impact that would make it a better city.

Ernie Mills, Jr., son of the founder of the Durham Rescue Mission, thanked Fairway for the time they'd donated to their non-profit serving homeless persons and families. "Fairway has been tremendous partners with the Durham Rescue Mission," Mills said, even suggesting that digital billboards could be used to share warnings to tell the homeless when the cold meant they should come in to shelter for the night.

Representatives of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, whose boards voted to support the ordinance, spoke in favor of the measure. Anthony Pugliese, the senior site executive for AICPA, noted that his company had looked at almost fifty different factors in deciding where to relocate within the US, and that billboards or their absence didn't appear anywhere on their radar screen.

East Durham activist the Rev. Mel Whitley, Jr. likened opposition to digital billboards to people who "wanted to continue using horse and buggies," telling Council, "I like billboards. They tell me where to stop and eat," to universal (and certainly anticipated) laughter.

It was a diverse set of proponents, from well-known activists like Whitley and Crest Street's Willie Patterson to members of local business groups to representatives of non-profits.

The opponents' side was, well, crunchier, from reps of the Eno River Association to neighborhood groups clustered around the urban Durham neighborhoods from Old Farm south to near-downtown areas in east and west Durham.

Those neighborhoods border routes like US 501, I-85 and the Durham Freeway that could have been impacted by the measure, since billboards wouldn't have been allowed in the I-40 corridor or on NC 147 south of Ellis Road.

But as the opponents were being called in order, a murmur went through the opposition side as Bell noted the arrival of a couple of late speakers for that side -- including Lavonia Allison, chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.

Among the opponents' side, that raised some interest; Allison's been publicly silent on the issue of billboards, and there was some wondering as to whether she might have been planning to support them and signed up on the wrong end or too late to make the proponent side.

The opponents got things off to a flashy start, with Page McCullough leading a number of opponents in donning LED-powered flashing sunglasses and telling Council in a twenty-word statement that that kind of light display on billboards wouldn't move Durham forward.

Other speakers noted the opposition of more than 70% of Durhamites in a DCVB poll, and described the visual blight and environmental impact of the signs. "Durham is a very progressive city, and I think part of that progressiveness has to do with how our city looks, and part of that includes billboards," said Eric Strother.

The content of digital billboards in other communities also drew complaints from some speakers.

"I can't tell you where one rape crisis or homeless shelter is" in Alamance County, one speaker noted, but said he could tell you where every strip club and pawn shop is.

Tom Harris, a resident of W. Sprunt Ave. with a clear view of I-85 and 15/501 from his back yard, said he "can only see my property values going to hell in a handbasket" if digital and relocated billboards appeared on his horizon.

But all eyes were on Lavonia Allison, who appeared near the end of the speakers list.

In a seeming reference to her standing against some of the anti-billboard activists on the controversial 751 South issue, Allison said with a broad smile, "It's really nice to have an opportunity to be on one side of a group on one night, and on the other side the other."

Allison noted the DCABP had not taken an official position on the stance -- but also that "neither ebony nor alabaster" were monolithic in their views. She complained about the visuals of billboards she saw along the I-95 corridor south of Benson, and noted that the LBJ administration didn't just pass the Voting Rights Act, but pushed for highway beautification rules, too.

"You can demonstrate tonight we are not like Greensboro, we are not like Wake County," Allison said.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That question of geography came up frequently in the discussion and questions by Council members after the public hearing ended.

Proponents brought a long list of cities in NC that allow digital billboards, from Asheville to Charlotte to the Triad, to Fayetteville and New Bern and Rocky Mount.

But nowhere in the Triangle.

"It staggers my imagination why you came to Durham to propose this project. Why not start it in Wake County?" asked Howard Clement, whose questioning of the billboard proponents would make for some of the more electric moments of the evening. 

Addressing Fairway's Paul Hickman, Clement asked, "That's just a question that troubled me.  If it's good enough for Durham, why isn't it good enough for Wake County? And since you live there, shouldn't it start there rather than here?"

Hickman told Clement that Durham came first "because we thought Durham was the most open and progressive community in the Triangle" -- an answer that, in a moment of less-than-civility, drew open laughter from the opponents in the room.

"I'm really flattered," Clement deadpanned.

Clements' questioning was in some ways set-up by the earlier comments of Mike Woodard, who'd earlier raised the question of why the Bull City should go first in digital signage. Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Morrisville all have digital and conventional billboard restrictions. "Why choose Durham first?"

Woodard said that "given the history of this issue over the past twenty-five years," he saw two issues at hand: whether the burden of proof had been met by the applicant, and whether the change would be a "public good" for residents at large.

He answered his rhetorical questions: no, and no. 

"This issue has united Durham like no other that I can remember," Woodard said, citing the receipt of more than 1,000 emails and letters opposed to the changes, versus less than a dozen in favor. He added that he'd heard from plenty of local residents, non-profits, Realtors, and business owners -- including some Chamber members expressing concern that they differed from their board's vote.

He added that many of the cities cited as using digital billboards for public safety and anti-crime messages themselves had high crime rates.

But Woodard's piece de resistance was a short PowerPoint he prepared, showing the new R. Kelly Bryant pedestrian bridge over NC 147 and describing it as an investment in reconnecting two halves of a disconnected neighborhood.

The bridge named for the longtime NC Mutual employee and living archive of Durham history has a Fairway billboard just over its northeastern edge.

The nonagenarian Bryant had written to Council asking they "NOT... start changing our successful sign ordinance."

And even on the verge of the bridge's dedication in September, the billboard at the bridge's edge carried a new advertisement -- for the Dixie Gun and Knife show being held in Raleigh this weekend.

If Clement had been on the fence (and he said at the opening of his comments that he was), the Dixie Gun and Knife show sign was enough to push him over the edge.

Noting that he had had his chauffeur take him to see the sign -- and calling out an influential Council member as that person, to laughter from the audience -- Clement grilled the Fairway team on what they were going to do about that sign.

"But that's offensive. And when I saw it, and I saw it personally… I had my chauffeur, Mike Woodard, take me out there and I saw it coming and going. I said, my goodness, something needs to be done about that," Clement said.

Fairway attorney Lewis Cheek noted that "with the text amendement, we can move it" -- a point that Diane Catotti took issue with.

After all, she mused a few minutes later, the industry can always take down signs at will; they just don't get to erect them anew.

Catotti also raised the spectre that it's not just "off-premises" billboard signs that could be impacted. If Durham changes the rules, she warned, on-premises signs erected by businesses could come up for challenges on the restrictions Durham had placed on them.

"More legal challenges will be sure to come if we make changes to this ordinance," Catotti said, citing the seven-year, million-dollar legal battle over Durham's 1984 ordinance that kicked off the billboard ban.

Eugene Brown also expressed his opposition to any changes. "There are lots of ways to enhance this city, but I don't think digital billboards really play a role in that."

He noted he'd received more emails on billboards than any other matter he'd seen in seven years on Council.  "On an issue like this, it definitely has an impact," Brown said.

"In my judgement, for Fairway, this is not the fair way for Durham to proceed," Brown said. "Indeed, I would suggest just the opposite, that it is the wrong way."

Still, Clement had not announced his vote. And that left three "no" votes announced. Where would the fourth come from?

Farad Ali seemed interested in some form of compromise to improve the aesthetics of poorly-aging billboards on US 70 and elsewhere. Karen Sindelar pointed out the existing ordinance already requires maintenance on the signage, though restrictions on the percentage of investment allowable does prevent creosote pole signs from being modernized to steel monopole structures.

Bell asked what harm would come to billboard owners, or to the City, if the new ordinance wasn't passed.

The phrasing of the question seemed to confuse the audience and Cheek, who seemingly tried to parse Bell's missive before saying, "I honestly don't know if there's harm to the CIty of Durham if the change is not made." Cheek went on to point out that there would be harm to the industry: "the inability to do the things that we've proposed to do: to upgrade, to move signs out of the residential areas."

Cora Cole-McFadden was next, on her second pass at Q&A and commentary; her first turn focused on the number of jobs created and extant in Durham thanks to the industry.

Those questions elicited that Fairway once had some Durham residents in its employ, but that "moved on to other opportunities," a point that seemed displeasing to Cole-McFadden.

A Fairway rep noted that the ordinance would add landscaping requirements and allow for sign relocation, providing some job opportunities; he also noted that the Raleigh office was talking to corporate about adding a Durham office to support digital billboard operations through the firm.

But that wasn't sufficient for Cole-McFadden.

"This is my third term, and I've never seen the outpouring of passion for an issue that I've seen for this," the mayor pro tem said. "I wish we had the same passion for how we're going to stop our kids from hurting each other, and at some point, I want to see this place filled with people who really have a passion for our children. Billboards cannot define who we are."

"At this juncture I can fund no compelling reason, no compelling reason to change the ordinance," Cole-McFadden said.

And with that, the vote was sealed -- at least four "no" votes were present.

But Clement wanted to have one more say.

"I don't mean to belabor this, but I want some clarity about what we're going to do with that billboard," Clement said. "I was hoping the folks from Fairway would get up and say we'll remove that thing first thing in the morning, and I'm still waiting to hear that response."

Clement cited the sign's content as an "example of the callous disregard for the heritage of Durham."

Bell asked city attorney Patrick Baker to clarify that under the existing ordinance -- and likely any ordinance -- the City couldn't regulate what content would appear on a billboard, something Baker agreed with. (A similar argument has been raised by City/County staff over the enforceability of the one-public-service-message-per-minute language in the ordinance.)

And with that, the matter was closed and up for a vote.

And on a council where not much that's controversial passes with all seven officials on the same side of an issue, the 0-7 vote reigned.

Comments

barry

"suggesting that digital billboards could be used to share warnings to tell the homeless when the cold meant they should come in to shelter for the night."

Ummm. I'm speechless.

Reyn

Outstanding summary Kevin.

Jim

Great reporting, thanks for the recap.

Doug Roach

I wish I could have been there but as I wasn't, this report is easily the next best thing.
Very well done, Kevin.

GreenLantern

Excellent report, as usual. Hard to skip over anything even when you want to know the ending. That's the key to a good story.

Interesting to find out the "Dixie Gun & Knife Show" was a REAL billboard, and not a cut & paste by Woodard used to make a point.

Doug Roach

It'll be interesting to see if that gun show board is changed before Monday night's county confab.
It occurs to me that Fairway would be well served to demonstrate that they can indeed respond to community pressure about content. If they don't, then it simply points to the vacuousness of all of their arguments.

Bass

Great coverage BCR

Natalie

I also liked that the hungry homeless veterans could use the billboards to learn where to go get two bags of groceries.

Seth Vidal

Natalie,
I enjoyed hearing from the non-profits that were willing to sell out our environment and make durham an uglier place for their own cause.

I took notes and made sure to add them to my 'NEVER DONATE TO' list.

The durham rescue mission got added right to the top.

Chris L.

I would have thought more "business minded" people would have approved this measure. The electronic billboards would have allowed more businesses to advertise instead of just only have one "painted/drawn" pic to display. Guess the City isn't really for "its" businesses. As a small business owner I'm sure this would have helped with advertising. Instead now they have to wait until its their time in a long line. Oh well. Thanks Fairway for trying anyways.

G Wolf

I don't get it. Was Ali cajoled into changing his vote, or was his original vote an error on his part?

Seth Vidal

Chris L:

When asked to explain the apparent conflict in their reports the billboard companies could not. Either, billboards distract the attention of drivers, away from what they are doing (driving) OR they are not a good advertisement investment.

So you'd be trading publicity for public safety.

Let me know which way you'd like to make that trade.

oh and please let me know what business you own so I can make sure to not buy things from you.

Thanks.

bb

@ Chris L,
it's almost 2011 man. there are much more modern ways of connecting with potential customers than an electronic billboards - they went out with internet cafes back in the '90s.

John Schelp

The American Advertising Federation-RDU sent out an alert yesterday -- urging advertisers to show up at Monday's public hearing on billboards to try and influence our County Commissioners. Here we go again. :)

Please send a short email asking County Commissions to: "support Durham's current billboard ordinance."

You can email all Commissioners at: commissioners@durhamcountync.gov


Several points emerged this week on industry's attempts to overturn Durham's successful billboard ban. Feel free to use some of these bullets in your emails to Commissioners:

* If the County were to approve the billboard industry's measure, it would only be effective outside the City. All of Durham's digital billboards would be in the County.

* The cost of text development, implementation and enforcement of the billboard industry's measure requires money. We'd need to find more funds for schools, sheriff and other important County services. The last thing we need to do is shift away funds to implement and enforce the billboard measure.

* Fairway admitted they have no employees from Durham on its staff. None. And they've hired no staff in local offices over the past five years.

* Why is a Raleigh-based billboard company (whose manager lives in Wake County) targeting Durham County -- instead of starting with Wake?

* While industry talks a lot about PSAs for non-profits, you don't see them in areas with digital billboards. And if the ordinance were to pass, we'd be unable to enforce Fairway's assertion to provide PSAs. Fairway (or subsequent managers) could decide not to provide PSAs -- and we wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

* Nonprofits and local businesses that advertise on digital billboards tend to reduce budgets for advertising in local newspapers and other advertising outlets. This will take additional monies out of local economy and reduce support for local businesses, especially Herald-Sun, N&O, Independent & other media outlets.

* Local businesses are most likely to be supported by locals (who are most effectively reached through local advertising in local press and media).

* Why erect big blinking billboards in Durham that would send passing drivers to businesses in the next county? (Blue highway signs point drivers to restaurants and hotels near highways in Durham; billboards send motorists to exits that are miles down the road.)

* The chair of the Durham Committee supports the current billboard ordinance (and called industry's presentation nothing but "spin").

* Local nonprofits reported no increases in client referrals or donations while their ads were posted on Fairway billboards (per Council member during hearing).

* If only we can get the Chamber of Commerce to work as diligently on violence, affordable housing, clean air, jobs, Shop Local campaigns and youth issues -- as they worked trying to get digital billboards in our community.

* Fairway has located multiple "Gun & Knife Show" billboards along our roadways and abutting Durham neighborhoods.

* Industry lawyers continue to tell officials half-truths when they say their measure will allow them to move billboards away from homes. They neglect to say the measure (which they wrote) allows industry to leave billboards right where they are -- next to homes, churches, parks, schools and the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge.

* Historian R. Kelly Bryant supports Durham's current billboard ordinance.

* The billboard industry has exaggerated its support. During Council's hearing, the City Manager said that, contrary to Fairway's assertions, the Durham Police Department does not have a position on digital billboards.

* In addition, turns out that City-wide Partners Against Crime do not support industry's measure (a facilitator later apologized on listservs) and the Museum of Life & Science rescinded its letter supporting digital billboards. (We may learn of another nonprofit rescinding its support later this week.)

* Commissioners have received more 1000 emails supporting Durham's billboard ordinance. Hard to recall the last time officials have seen 1000 emails agreeing on a controversial issue in Durham.

* Fairway's most recent op-ed claims "hundreds" of supporters (08/04/10 Herald). The fact is Council members received nine letters, and only seven emails, pushing for digital billboards. Industry failed to back up its claim for "hundreds" of supporters at the Council hearing.

* Council members received no messages of support from industry's own billboard, which drove traffic to a website for people to offer support. None.

* The N&O reports that the American Advertising Federation-RDU just sent out an alert, urging advertisers to show up at the County Commissioner meeting (08/04/10 N&O). Here we go again, more out-of-town industry lobbyists trying to influence our elected officials.

* Fairway employees (who do not live in Durham) and proponents (who do not live in Durham) do not vote in Durham. Durham residents, who do vote in Durham, overwhelmingly support the current ordinance.

* Billboards for national companies and businesses outside Durham will not direct resources to Durham businesses or contribute to Durham's economy.

* Unanimous support for current ordinance by City Council, planning staff and Planning Commission. County Commissioners who support Fairway's measure will face Durham voters -- not voters in Raleigh and Greensboro.

* Billboards display 24/7, while Amber/Silver alerts are rare. Police departments are already trying to opt out of billboard alerts elsewhere.

* The State has its own series of official message signs for Amber Alerts. They're designed to provide the information for motorists to react with the least possible distraction from their driving task, because they are designed in accordance with safe highway practices as mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation... In contrast, the Amber Alerts on billboards have no official sanction, and often display useless and unnecessary information. As a result, rather than communicating an important message in a non-distracting way, they require the motorist to take his/her eyes off the road for extended periods to read the material on the billboard. (Scenic Michigan)

There's a reason our City Council voted 7-0 against industry's measure. They found no compelling benefit for Durham.

Hopefully, our County Commissioners will also stand with the Durham community.

Heartfelt thanks to Bill Bell, Farad Ali, Gene Brown, Diane Catotti, Howard Clement, Cora Cole-McFadden, and Mike Woodard.

~John Schelp
supportdurhambillboardban.com

Durham City Council votes unanimously to keep current ordinance banning digital billboards (today's Indy)...
http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/durham-city-council-votes-unanimously-to-keep-current-ordinance-banning-them/Content?oid=1578308

Seth Vidal

In case anyone didn't know where the county rules could impact. It seems like the county allowing billboards would mean potentially digital billboards on:

147 to the east/south of town - heading to i40

i85 to the east and north of town

98 to the east of town

huge portions of 70


i40 to the south west of town down near 15/501 and jordan lake

i40 to the south east of town heading toward the airport

Just a mess.

Come to the meeting on monday, don't let them do this.

Kelly Jarrett

Great summary BCR. On how digital billboards contribute to local economies and local, small businesses, Mike Woodard made an interesting point: when small businesses invest their advertising dollars in digital billboard advertising, they decrease the amount they spend for advertising in local papers & media outlets. So let's see: money in to out-of-state businesses like Fairway; money out for local businesses & media that depend on local readers/viewers and reinvest in the economy (by hiring locals--another area where Fairway is batting zero). Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul to me.

TrinityRez

Seth apparently you have never run a business ....or well a successful business. A business does not utilize only 1 advertising venue. You use multiple advertising venues to ultimately gain brand recognition.

Chris this is a great blog but you will not find any sympathy from the majority of posters here. I find it funny that progressive folks want businesses to provide employment and tax revenue but want to make it as hard as possible for a business to be successful. Also, criticize Chris for his opinion but put your empty hands out for as much government revenue you can force him to pay.

Chris if you care to share your business name I would be more than happy to offset Seth's childish "take my toys home" threat to boycott your business. Keep working to realize your successful business because it is people like you that allow these progressives to rob you of your hard earn money so they can feel all warm and fuzzy by voting the government to support some failure social program.

As to the billboards I would love for all of them to be dismantled. However, I definitely support digital billboards over the paper blowing in the wind out dated trash that is currently spoiling the road side of Durham.

As to the distraction argument....foolish. If you want to argue that than all protesters at Brightleaf should be banned because they distract drivers. Ban car radios, conversation in cars, road signs etc....they all distract drivers.

Seth Vidal

A business which chooses to not take a side in this debate is fine by me. It's not a moral issue, you are not REQUIRED to take up sides. You can simply walk away.

But if you choose a side, be prepared for the consquences of that choice.

Chris L. chose a side.

That was his decision.

Andrius Benokraitis

The only billboards I like in Durham:

http://photos.andrius.us/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wpid62-IMG_8131.jpg

bakednudel

I don't know how anyone who has seen the digital billboards in Charlotte could possibly want that in their town. They are even more of an eyesore than the regular billboards.

I do find it interesting that one of the few billboards left, and the only one I remember, is for the Herald-Sun.

Will

I know this isn't Facebook but I would like to "LIKE" @Andrius' comment.

Will

I was just thinking...while the city takes up much of the area of Durham County it's the non-city areas that most of our visitors see when coming here. Or what residents see when coming home from travels.

In other words it sets the tone and the expectations for their experience. So support of our county commissioners to maintain our existing ordinance is every bit as important as our city council's support.

I'm emailing them now. commissioners@durhamcountync.gov

BigAl

"Guess the city really isn't for "it's" businesses"

- and I suppose "Small businesses have no regard for the natural aesthetic appeal of "their" town"

one ridiculous assertion deserves another (sigh).

Kikki

@TrinityRez: The jobs and taxes arguments for electronic billboards simply don't hold water. It came out at the City Council hearings that Fairway has no employees in Durham. NONE. So this industry brings us no jobs. And their contributions to tax coffers: They currently pay a paltry $5000 in property taxes--for ALL their billboards combined. The magnificent digital billboards they propose will increase that to a mere $60,000--a relatively insignificant contribution to our coffers. Especially when you take into account the exponential increases in revenues they will see from electronic billboards.

Dan S.

I particularly enjoy the part about Fairway's gracious commitment to remove the Dixie Gun an Knife Show billboard "by September," given that the event ends on August 8.

How generous of them to remove a billboard advertising an event that a) references a racially-loaded concept (read up on the origins of "Dixie," particularly the "slave paradise" that was Dixy's Plantation) and b) promotes cheap and easy access to firearms without so much as a thorough background check or paper trail, roughly 3 weeks after the event ends.

(Oh, and Ken Fields Promotions inclusion of an animated GIF of a belt-fed Bren gun, with its ammunition swaying in the breeze is particularly charming. However, I doubt either Chief Lopez or Sheriff Hill are going to be signing off on any Class 3 FFLs any time soon.)

Natalie

Has anyone figured out how much money we would have to raise for the city to tear out all of the non-conforming billboards? I'd throw at least one bake-sale :D

GreenLantern

It was an easy decision that united nearly all the various groups in Durham under a common set of reasonable and logical arguments. It was as though we were all repelling a group of invading carpetbaggers which came from the east and south rather than from "up nawth".

Proponents had no real benefit argument that couldn't be debunked, or muted by other practical alternatives. There are real negative issues with driver distraction, light pollution, energy use, aesthetics, property values, local image, and future legal liability to the city/county. There was the potential for very little benefit compared to the risks, as most council members and speakers pointed out. Any fence-sitter by the end of the debate had disappeared.

LB45

DanS " How generous of them to remove a billboard advertising an event that a) references a racially-loaded concept (read up on the origins of "Dixie," particularly the "slave paradise" that was Dixy's Plantation) and b) promotes cheap and easy access to firearms without so much as a thorough background check or paper trail, roughly 3 weeks after the event ends."

A. Race Card. Cute.
B. You can't buy a firearm without a pistol permit, and/or a National Instant Check System (NICS)call made during the purchase. The only exception is a holder of a duly issued Concealed Carry permit. These all require a background check by the sheriff of the county doing the issue.

Cut all the billboards down tomorrow as far as I'm concerned but keep the rants on topic please.

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